We had seven crystal singing bowls singing in our worship at Trinity United Church in June. When the tones of a bowl got stronger some people said, “Oh, I felt a warmth go through my body,” or, “My body feels looser, more relaxed now.” A couple of folks did experience the sound as bothersome. The vibrations filled the room and affected us all. If we’d looked to see what the cats outside were doing, I’m sure, like my cat, they would have come closer to listen; they often attract animals. The crystal bowls were used in our worship to remind us of all of the incredible movement of spirit and healing vibrations in our lives and bodies. Spirit has consequence in our lives — we all know it, but we can’t see it. Spirit affects everyone like a moving vibration.
Our church intended to have a picnic event outside at Centennial Park but due to wet grass, cold weather and hovering gray clouds decided that we should opt for “easy” and stay in our hall, which regularly transforms into our sanctuary. The bowls sounded louder here than they would have outdoors, I think. I would have been tempted to make them sing louder and longer in the outdoors for the sheer joy of the connection.
The vibrations and sound of each of the seven bowls relates the energy of each of the seven chakras in the body: the root or base of the spine, the sexual chakra, the solar plexus, the heart, throat, third eye and the crown chakra at the top of your head. The understanding is that the vibrations encourage the body to rebalance and heal itself. It is not hard for our minds to imagine that certain vibrations work healing in our bodies. I’ll leave it to the reader to satisfy their own need for scientific research (try “Healing Vibrations: The Medicine of the Future” or “Cymascope”).
Pythagorus postulated that vibrations would be the medicine of the future. Teachers have known instinctively for a long time that the brain shrinks when people are afraid; there is now brain research to scientifically that demonstrates that shrinking. Likewise, it is not difficult to find experiences that make you think about the healing effect of harmonious vibrations; I once had a friend who eased her back pain from a bad car accident by listening to harp music. Many choir members will tell you that they feel strengthened and relaxed after a choir practice, and though there are many reasons for that; vibrations moving through the body are part of that renewal of energy.
Can we move through our days as if the Creator spoke deeply in all creation? What kind of respect for all things and person would that mean? How do we open to that healing love which we can neither control nor own?
Using the bowls was meant to help us think about and remember experiences where our wellness was about integrating body mind and spirit. Our whole self is involved in our disease often, and therefore the whole self is needed for our healing too. Part of the great crime of our residential schools taking away the traditional teachings about drumming and other First Nations rituals is that it took away the great practice of healing and attention to a power greater than themselves that they developed over centuries. There is so much that the early scientific age couldn’t explain about the drums, yet they experienced and were afraid of the power (the clash of settlers and First Nations is a devastating history). We humans can misunderstand each other in a myriad of ways. Can we understand community and the world in this integrated way where when one suffers, all suffer?
If the spirit of compassion moves through us as easily as the sound vibration of the crystal bowls, there is the possibility that people could wake up out of the hypnotism of material glut, listen to each other, listen to different cultures and different ways, expand our comprehension of life and appreciation of many different truths. Our compassion for the varieties of worship and thanksgiving that exist, even here in Creston, might widen.
This whole body, mind and spirit experience opens up a conversation about the wideness of truth that we cannot explain but yearn for. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” If, like sound vibrations, the Holy fully knows us, in, through and beyond this mystery that we are part of, then our thanksgiving is part of the movement of the Holy. Our respect for one another and our sacred practices are an honouring of the mystery. We can notice the respect and honour in each other, all creation and all things, and therefore appreciate the Holy in all things.
Rev. Shelley Stickel-Miles is pastor of Creston’s Trinity United Church.